Porn: The Deadly Epidemic

Porn: The Deadly Epidemic

I don't need to tell you that porn consumption is an epidemic, not only within the culture, but also within the Church. I do need to tell you that it's deadly. I've seen a couple movies about epidemics wiping out large swaths of the population. In the beginning of these movies the general public does not take the disease and its spread as seriously as they ought. Only the protagonist suspects the severity of the crisis, but his or her warnings go unheeded. Those infected assume they have something like the flu and that they will recover. Those not infected fail to take proper precautions to prevent coming in contact with the disease. But soon it becomes clear that it's far more deadly than anyone (except the protagonist) expected. Those infected start vomiting blood, their organs fail, and they die. It spreads to everyone who comes in contact with or even breathes in the harmful microbes. Only after millions have died do people begin to take proper precautions. Doctors and scientists don't approach the sick unless they're wearing hazmat suits. People flee from the disease, quite literally, like the plague.

Like the poor saps in the beginning of these movies, Christians have not been regarding porn as the deadly disease it is. We’ve failed to take proper precautions and we’ve come into contact with something that will kill us. Part of the problem, I think, is the improper application of law and gospel. When tempted to look at porn, we sometimes think, “If I do this, God will forgive me.” That may well be true; God will have mercy on all sinners who repent. But in that situation we should actually listen to the law, which warns us that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). The gospel has not been given to coax us into committing sin, though that is how the devil uses it. Instead, the gospel has been given to comfort bruised reeds and faintly burning wicks. It’s for the poor sinner who has yet again looked at porn and is now full of shame and regret. The gospel rightly comes to that person, saying, “Christ has died for your sin; yes, even that one, and you are forgiven through faith in him.”

When tempted to look at porn, we must listen with all seriousness to the law, which warns us about God’s wrath upon the sexually immoral. Although it’s true that God will forgive the sins of all who repent, we must not forget that repentance itself is a gift from the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Acts 11:18). If we harden our hearts and intentionally sin against conscience, we grieve the Holy Spirit. If we keep this up, eventually the Spirit will leave us and we will not even think to repent after succumbing to lust. Our seared consciences will be eerily quiet and disturb us no more.

Christians, it's time to start treating porn consumption like the deadly epidemic it is. The time is past for naively allowing ourselves to come in contact with it. It's time to get out the hazmat suits. It's time to "flee from sexual immorality" (1 Cor. 6:18).

Jesus is the protagonist in this real life epidemic crisis. He has known the true nature of this disease from the beginning and he has warned us of its lethal effects:

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)

Jesus teaches us to take drastic measures to avoid the sin of lust, which is adultery. If we don't we will be thrown into hell. This means we may need to exchange our smart phones for flip phones. It may mean that we pay twelve dollars a month for Covenant Eyes on all our devices. It may mean we cancel cable or satellite tv. It may mean we go to our pastors for confession and absolution, for accountability and prayer. These things and others we would never do if the epidemic wasn't deadly. But Jesus warns us that it is. So we must heed his word and take drastic measures.

Imagine the next time you're tempted to look at porn a man comes up and puts a gun to your head. He says he'll pull the trigger if you look at it. Would you be able to refrain from acting out on your lust? Of course you would. Why? Because the stakes are so high—life or death. It's time to start thinking about looking at porn like that. If you go through with it, you'll be thrown into hell. If you think of it this way, you’ll be surprised at how much self-control the Holy Spirit has actually given you (Gal. 5:23). You’ll repent, you’ll flee, you'll tear out your eye—whatever it takes.

Porn is deadly. It's not the flu bug. It will kill you. Jesus, the protagonist who warned us long ago, is not only the prophet of doom, he is the physician who heals. Though completely pure, he allowed himself to be injected with our disease. All our sins of lust and adultery have been imputed to him. He became sin. It killed him. And his blood is the only cure. By faith in his blood we are healed.

Dear sinner/saints who struggle with porn, don't stop fighting the good fight. Make the last time you looked at porn the last time ever. Jesus has warned you what will happen if you don’t. Heed his word of law. But know that he loves you. Know that he died for you. He bought you with a price and he forgives you when you repent. He has come to heal your diseases and to purify your hearts.

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